If you’re like me, you’re probably still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from last semester’s finals. Although your workload is already starting to get heavy, you still just can’t bring yourself to step back inside VP or Huntsman. Luckily, Philly is full of coffee shops that serve as great alternatives to traditional libraries. Plus these five places provide delicious food to keep you both satisfied and productive.
Plenty Café currently has two locations (Rittenhouse and East Passyunk) and is an ideal space for studying. What first drew me inside was (obviously) their food aka their extensive list of creative sandwiches and salads. My favorites include the pulled pork sandwich with all-natural pork shoulder, house barbeque sauce, cheddar and summer slaw on a toasted demi-baguette as well as the beet and goat salad with roasted butternut squash, toasted pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and citrus shallot vinaigrette. Plenty also offers breakfast sandwiches, granola and oatmeal in addition to an awesome beverage list. Beyond the menu, the music is subdued, the noise level is usually kept to a minimum, and the inside is nice enough to keep you around for a few hours.
Rival Bros Coffee Bar
When I first heard that the coffeemakers behind Mark’s Café were opening up shop in Center City, I was skeptical. Why would I venture off-campus to spend money on the same coffee I can bursar right here? After one visit, however, I was convinced. Although small, the interior of Rival Bros has nothing in common (thankfully) with VP’s aesthetic. It’s comfortable and charming, and it even has some outdoor seating. It’s most impressive attribute are its snacks, which are pastries ranging from scones to danishes to bundt cakes that are prepared by the award-winning chef behind High Street on Market. While I’m not usually a huge fan of toast, Rival Bros serves the best homemade bread I’ve ever eaten.
Joe Coffee has two convenient locations (one next to Shake Shack on Drexel’s campus and the other right in Rittenhouse Square) and is a great place to work. Since most of its customers are usually typing away on laptops, you don’t have to feel weird about pulling yours out to work. Surprisingly, Joe Coffee also serves salads from Talula’s Daily as well as fresh pastries, muffins, scones and cookies. I recently ate the Superfood Salad (i.e. the perfect study snack) which is made of kale, cabbage, almonds, blueberries and quinoa with a pomegranate dressing.
Based only on its appearance, this Old City coffee shop is my favorite in Philadelphia. It’s environment is light and airy, and it’s full of cool trinkets. Unlike many coffee shops, Menagerie is really spacious, making it ideal for studying. In addition to an assortment of pastries, Menagerie offers great sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. I tried an English muffin stuffed with ham and habanero goatjack cheese and drizzled in maple syrup as well as a gooey grilled cheese. Neither disappointed.
This Argentine spot is definitely a neighborhood favorite. Most people who walk in appear to be regulars, which can make it a bit noisy at times. Nevertheless, the homey environment is a welcome change from other sterile study environments. Gavin’s offers authentic Argentinian empanadas, quiches, sandwiches and salads. Standouts are the alfajores de malcena, which are shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche and covered in coconut shavings as well as the freshly baked and often warm blueberry scones or banana oat muffins.
Next time you dread heading to the library, check out one of these places. Your sanity and stomach will thank you.